A Timeline of the History of Modern Nursing | Salter School of Allied Health and Nursing
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A Timeline of the History of Modern Nursing

nursing historySome details about the profession you might not be aware of

Nursing is a profession that, over the centuries, has inspired a lot of talented people to care for others. It can be valuable to look back over recent decades and recognize the contributions of those who came before you—not in the earliest days of the profession, but more recently.

Take a look at some of these more nursing milestones from the past 50 years:

1964: U.S. Congress passes the Nurse Training Act, to help educate nurses and build nursing schools. The act also created a uniformed Cadet Nurse Corps within the U.S. Public Health Service.

1967: The hospice movement takes a big first step, when English nurse (and social worker, physician and writer) Dame Cicely Saunders founds St. Christopher’s Hospice near London for treating patients with terminal illnesses.

1967: A nurse accompanies the first transfer of a premature infant by helicopter from one hospital to another.

1969: A specialty nursing society is formed: the American Association of Critical Care.

1971: The National Black Nurses Association is established.

1973: Work begins on what will become a set of terminology that nurses use consistently across the U.S., under the leadership of the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (NANDA).

1974: Dean Florence Wald at Yale School of Nursing launches the hospice movement in the U.S. by founding Connecticut Hospice.

1975: The National Association of Hispanic Nurses forms.

1978: Estelle Massey Osborne is the first African American nurse to become an honorary fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. That same year, Barbara Nichols becomes the first African American president of the American Nurses Association, and Elizabeth Carnegie is the first African American president of the American Academy of Nursing.

1979: Case Western Reserve University creates the first program where nurses can earn a doctoral degree in nursing.

1980: Viola Davis Brown is the first African American nurse to lead a U.S. state office of public health nursing, in of Kentucky

1985: The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners forms.

1990: Japan declares an official Nursing Day—on Florence Nightingale’s birthday (May 12).

1992: Eddie Bernice Johnson becomes the first nurse to be elected to the U.S. Congress, for the state of Texas.

1990: Thanks to the Department of Health and Human Services, a commission begins working the national nursing shortage in the United States. This helps to lessen the need for a BSN for people who want to get into the field. Around this time, nursing uniforms in many healthcare facilities begin to change from more traditional white dresses to scrubs.

1998: The National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations brings together African American, Hispanic, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Native American, and Philippine nurses.

2007: The International Council of Nurses’ global conference in Japan supports professional nurses throughout the world in gaining networking and educational experience.


We hope this overview of the last 50 years of nursing has been inspiring! We are grateful to everyone in the nursing profession who dedicates themselves to excellent care for others.


This post is part of the weekly blog of the Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health, located in Manchester, NH. Visit us online to learn more, or reach out to schedule a campus tour!